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My birthday is this week. I have always loved having a January birthday, because the New Year is also a new year for me.
Birthdays can be hard, especially as you get older. I know it is silly, but turning 30 was difficult simply because I would not be able to call myself 20-something anymore.
I try to really take to heart the adage that having another birthday is better than the alternative. Maybe it is because I have lost so many friends so young.
A close friend died in a car accident a few months after his 20th birthday. My college roommate lost her battle with illness six months after graduation. Another close friend passed away at 28. My childhood best friend was hit by a drunk driver at 30.
They all had hopes and dreams, and none of them got to fulfill the promise of their lives.
I feel that in some ways, I have a responsibility to my friends to fulfill the goals I have in my life.
While each birthday makes me a year older, I realize that people I loved never had the chance to have another birthday. Getting older is a luxury.
In all honesty, I love my birthday. I love having an excuse to make a cake and eat it. I do not always want the same cake. Some years I make a yellow cake with chocolate buttercream. Sometimes I prefer an Italian Cream with pecans. Last year, my daughter and husband made me a chocolate cake in a Harry Potter pan and decorated it themselves.
I enjoy getting together with friends and family to celebrate. On my 30th birthday, I spent the day shopping with my sister-in-law, and then went to the Derby Dinner Playhouse that night. My husband and I met my mama and my brothers in Nashville for the rest of weekend to celebrate. We also meet our friends for a birthday dinner some years.
I have no qualms about throwing my own party. In college, I sent invitations to all of my friends to join me in my dorm room to share the birthday cake that my mama brought to me. Some people seem to find it unseemly to ask people to celebrate your own birthday. I see nothing wrong with asking people to keep me company and partake of my refreshments, though.
I consider January my birthday month, and celebrate it all month long. This was a little easier when I was younger and only shared the month with my grandfather and younger brother. These days, I also share January with my husband, his sister and our daughter. This means there is extra cake and additional celebrating, so it is not all bad.
Birthdays are a good time for reflection. Reflecting on life, reflecting on the past year. In 2012, I am working on a project to document details and observations about my family. As part of that, I intend to write a piece called “Deanna at 36” that includes the things I experienced in the last year. For my daughter, I made her a little book about her third year using photos of her, and words that include her personality, along with milestones that she reached. I envision my project being similar, but will only take up a page and include one photo taken in the last year.
I encourage you to consider your next birthday a celebration of life. Birthdays truly are better than the alternative.